There is one peculiarity about the culture and traditional arts of the Yoruba people. Mythology is deep-rooted in the land. From the cradle of the race to her utmost specs of cosmopolitan and civilization, Lagos Island, Yorubaland is an unending stream of myths.
Otunba Funmilola Olorunisola, retired broadcaster and Director, Media and Public Affairs, to the immediate past
Ooni of Ile Ife, Oba Ikunade Sijuade, said ‘of the 365 days in a year, it is only one day, that the Ooni do not worship a deity or the other’.
Yoruba people from Ile Ife to the banks of the River Niger in the Northern area, are well noted for their prowess in deploying drums to enliven any occasion. So also are the people towards the East. The Ogwus, (Badagry), Ajases, (Benin Republic), Idaho, (Togo) do not lack dexterity on the drums. Arts and music are not complete without drums; be it dundun, Iya Ilu, Apala, Bata, omele, one or a combination of two or three must be added to add glamour and entertainment to any occasion.
The forefather of drummers, Ayangalu was said to have descended along with Oduduwa. While Oduduwa landed in Ile Ife, Ayangalu was said to have landed in Atiba, a short distance away. Orunmila was said to have used his oracular power to decide the messages being passed by the talking drum. He was said to have dissected the talking and singing of animals and birds. From there, the culture developed.
Therefore when the Ooni rolled out the drums last week to celebrate the Ayan Agalu deity, it was in an utmost display of glitzy, colors, and full of razzmatazz.
Yoruba culture is based on music and dancing. From it comes Ewi, Ijala, Aro, and Oje. All these required the symptomatic harmonious percussions of various drums. Yoruba music, arts, and culture are not complete without drums.
These drums are used to send messages, communicate, inform and educate at various functions.
The base of the Yoruba’s main percussion is comprised of Iya Ilu, dundun, gangan, bata, and omele.
These drums are peculiar to the Yoruba people. No other race has been able to replicate the various drums and their impacts, not even the Chinese that is reputed for their ability to duplicate any technology.
At the ceremony, the Arole Oduduwa, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, the Ooni of Ife surprised all with his dexterity on the drums, as he displayed his unknown talent as a drummer when he dazzled the teaming participants at the closing session of the annual Ayangalu Drum Festival. The Monarch had taken up the symbolic talking drum called ‘IYA ILU’ with which he sent messages of peace and tranquility to Nigerians, especially during this forthcoming electioneering period.
The Royal Father, narrated that the talking aspect of drumming originally came from animals, the Yoruba foremost monarch was speaking of the Ayan Agalu festival.
He described the talking drum as a vital tool for communicating peaceful coexistence globally.
He said the Oduduwa race was the first tribe to beat the drum in the whole world, saying the festival has to do with the rhythm of the drum which has to do with the connection of the spiritual connotations.
“Globally, people usually called our ancestors animists, because they had a strong relationship with them.
“The Ayan Agalu festival has been in existence from a time memorial as one of the deities. No matter the tribe, either black, white, or brown, the world cannot do without the drum. The whole world has done a lot in the rhythm of drums as it is concerned.
“Basically, We are just remembering our ancestors and giving them the honor that it’s due to them, I urge the Oodua race worldwide, Yorubas in particular to jointly continue celebrating Ayan Agalu so as to let the whole world know that the drum originated from us.” Ooni expressed.
Ayangalu deity, history stated descended next to Oduduwa in a place called Atiba in Ile-Ife from where Oranmiyan moved to found the Oyo Kingdom. The place called Atiba has since remained the hub of traditional drummers in Ile-Ife to date.
Another deity, Orunmila was also said to have played a huge role in drumming communication. Orunmila was said to be the first deity that decoded the meaning of the talking drum and all other things that had to do with it.
Ooni Ogunwusi further stated that “Our ancestors used drum majorly for communication, for it goes beyond entertainment and till date, Yoruba people use the drum for communication and as a vital tool for preaching peace and harmony..
“By the spirit of Ayangalu festival, we use the rhythm and tone to communicate peace and peaceful coexistence to our people.
“We are like the barometer in the next electioneering campaign in Nigeria, Osun gubernatorial election is coming up in the next two to three weeks and that will lead to a major election in Nigeria by next year January.” Oba Ogunwusi stated.
Alagba Afolayan ADEBIYI writes from Lagos, Nigeria.